How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Practicing great oral hygiene is a combination of great habits. These great habits start with brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. In fact, there’s no habit more important than this one for optimal oral health. But what is the right way to brush your teeth each day? How long should you brush each time? And is it possible to brush your teeth too much?

how long should you brush your teeth

Toothbrushing Tips: How Long and How Often to Brush Your Teeth

Here are our best tips to get the most out of your tooth brushing sessions each day, including how long and how often you should brush your teeth.

How often should I brush my teeth?

The general rule is to get at least two teeth-brushing sessions each day: once when you wake up in the morning, and once before you go to bed. Your dentist will also recommend that you brush after each meal, and especially after eating sugary foods.

Brushing more than twice per day isn’t always easy or possible with busy work schedules. But keeping up with the minimum of twice per day still has great oral health benefits, like keeping breath fresh and clean, removing plaque and buildup and avoiding stains.

If you’d like to increase your teeth brushing during the day, we recommend keeping a travel toothbrush and toothpaste at work, if possible. That way, you can brush after lunch or snacks, or before a big meeting. If you’re unable to keep a toothbrush and toothpaste at work, try at least rinsing your mouth a few times with water after a meal. This step will help to loosen and get rid of any left behind food, and can even help remove some of those lunchtime smells.

How long should I brush my teeth?

Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes each time you brush. This number is based on the amount of time it takes to thoroughly reach each quadrant of your mouth and remove as much plaque, bacteria and food particles as possible.

If you haven’t been brushing for two minutes at a time or you’re a “brush-and-dash” type in the morning, you’ll find the first few times feel much longer than two minutes. Be patient and don’t let a hectic morning (or nighttime) routine distract you from these extra seconds.

If you’re struggling to gauge how long two minutes is, try setting a timer or playing a song as you brush. Many electric toothbrushes have a built in timer, and some will even indicate when it’s time to move to a different part of the mouth. Patients with gingivitis or other types of gum disease can notice a difference in overall oral health within a week or two of this kind of thorough brushing. Even if you don’t have these types of oral health concerns, you’ll notice an improvement in your breath and could even see a reduction in staining.

Make sure as you’re brushing that you’re using light, even pressure throughout the session. Use a soft toothbrush and never “scrub” the toothbrush back and forth on your teeth and gums. Instead, if you’re using a manual toothbrush, make tiny circles with your brush, and pay attention to each tooth. Brush all exposed surfaces (meaning both the front, back and top of each tooth) and spend some time lightly brushing at the gum line. You can also brush your tongue, roof of the mouth and inside of your cheeks, as well, for an extra-fresh hygiene boost.

Electric toothbrushes (especially sonic ones), barely require you to move the toothbrush at all except to make sure it’s in the right position. The vibrating bristles will do the bulk of the work for you. There is no need to press too hard or use a scrubbing motion to get the job done.

Can I brush my teeth for too long?

Few people are in danger of brushing their teeth too long. With the right gentle brushing technique, there is little risk of damage if you brush for two and a half minutes instead of two.

Far more patients will suffer the consequences of brushing their teeth too hard. In fact, patients who brush too hard can have “toothbrush abrasion”. Toothbrush abrasion can lead to receding gums and sensitive teeth. Receding gums in particular can present greater problems down the road, including cavities in the exposed roots of the teeth.

Bottom line: worry less about going over your two minute mark and instead concentrate on proper technique. Ask your dentist or hygienist at your next teeth cleaning exam if they notice signs of toothbrush abrasion or have them show you the proper technique if you’re not sure.

Follow the 2/2 tooth brushing model

Remember, at a minimum, to follow the 2/2 brushing model for good oral health. Brush twice a day, with proper technique, for two minutes each time. If you can fit more sessions in, great! We particularly recommend additional sessions after meals or sugary treats.

Remember: The above information should be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have questions about proper tooth brushing, you should contact our skilled dentists right away for a dental exam. 

Professional Dentistry and Teeth Cleaning Exams in Columbus Ohio

We are proud to offer professional dentistry and teeth cleaning exams to patients and new patients in Central Ohio. Ask your dentist at your next appointment about proper tooth brushing technique. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning!